A broadside collision is a type of crash that happens when the front end of one motor vehicle hits the side of another motor vehicle. They are also called T-bone or angle collisions.
Broadside collisions are among the most dangerous and deadly of all traffic accidents. Not all cars have side airbags for protection, which means only the few-inch width of the vehicle’s door separates those occupants from the vehicle that crashes into them.
Why do so many broadside collisions happen at Tampa intersections?
Tampa broadside collisions often occur at intersections because that is where vehicles cross paths most often. As explained by the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA), an intersection is called a “planned point of conflict” on a road—a place where vehicles must yield to one another to avoid collisions. This makes navigating intersections one of the most dangerous aspects of driving a motor vehicle.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a city without intersecting streets. But intersections impose an especially high cost on any community. According to federal transportation statistics, about one out of three traffic deaths and approximately 40 percent of traffic-related injuries occur at intersections in the U.S.
Tampa government currently has plans to improve Tampa intersections at:
- 50th Street and Busch Boulevard;
- Armenia Avenue and Busch Boulevard;
- Doyle Carlton Street and Laurel Street;
- Highwoods Preserve Parkway and Highwoods Palm Way; and
- Willow Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard
In recent years, cities across the United States have ramped up converting traditional crossroads intersections to roundabouts, which keep traffic flowing at a steady pace and lead to fewer crashes. Tampa has built dozens of roundabouts, including those near East Hillsborough Avenue, along 40th Street, and in the New Tampa area.
What makes traditional crossroads intersections in Tampa so dangerous? Here are a few of the most significant contributing factors.
Human Drivers and Intersection Design
Intersections are not inherently dangerous by their existence. The people who drive cars and trucks through them create hazards at intersections because of human error and how the human brain processes information.
Drivers need to receive and process information to navigate safely through an intersection. Intersections contain vast amounts of information for the human brain to process. Some drivers process the wrong information at an intersection or do not process information in the safest sequential order, which heightens the risk of a broadside collision. For example, a driver distracted by unfamiliar lane markings might fail to look both ways for crossing traffic before entering an intersection.
Engineers try to design intersections to make navigating them intuitive for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. A poorly designed intersection that presents unclear safety information or disrupts expectations about where to look for hazards can confuse drivers and increase the risk of a broadside crash.
Traffic Control Device Selection
Busy intersections in Tampa are full of traffic signals, signs, and lane markings, all of which have a role in ensuring road safety. But these signs and signals sometimes fail to fulfill their intended purpose, either through poor design or failure to function properly.
When civil engineers design Tampa intersections, they try to choose signs and signals suitable for the intersection and its particular characteristics. But they do not always make the right choice. The characteristics of an intersection can change over time to make once-appropriate signs and signals unsuitable for new conditions.
The features engineers consider, which can vary, include:
- Typical traffic volumes at a particular intersection and daily/weekly changes in that level;
- Differences in traffic volume on roads meeting at intersections;
- The location of an intersection, especially sightline and geographic features that may affect its design and safety;
- The functional purpose of an intersection;
- Foot and bicycle traffic at an intersection;
- The number of lanes of traffic on each road at an intersection;
- Traffic control devices that get the best response from drivers;
- The best placement of a signal or sign to ensure maximum visibility; and
- Projected population growth and increase in traffic flow in coming years.
Any failure to consider or estimate these and other factors in designing an intersection and its traffic control devices can put motorists at risk for a broadside collision.
Aside from backing up, making a left turn is the driving maneuver most likely to result in an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), more than half of all traffic accidents at intersections involve a vehicle making a left turn. At standard four-way intersections, left turns require motorists to cross oncoming traffic, exposing their broadside to a potential collision. Uncontrolled intersections, such as where parking lots and driveways meet roads, are even more dangerous for drivers making left turns.
Common Causes of Broadside Collisions at Tampa Intersections
Various factors lead to broadside collisions ranging from weather to vehicle malfunctions. However, negligent driving behaviors create the most risk for a crash at a busy Tampa intersection. Common causes of broadside collisions in Tampa include:
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) defines distracted driving as “anything that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road or mind off driving.” Cell phone use is a common distracted driving culprit, especially for younger drivers who often risk accidents and injuries by texting and driving while stopped at an intersection.
But Tampa drivers also succumb to other distractions at or near intersections that can easily lead to a dangerous broadside collision, such as:
- Personal grooming, such as applying make-up and brushing hair;
- Adjusting vehicle features such as A/C, radio, seats, or moonroof;
- Programming a GPS;
- Paying attention to something outside the vehicle;
- Drinking and eating snacks while driving;
- Conversing with passengers;
- Tending to children in the backseat;
- Reaching for items in the backseat or on the floor; or
Driving under the influence of controlled substances impairs a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle in ways that often cause a broadside collision in Tampa.
Alcohol and drugs can lead to a crash at an intersection through:
- Slowed reactions that prevent compliance with stop signs, traffic signals, and other traffic control devices.
- Poor judgment and decision-making that heightens the risk of entering an intersection at the wrong moment.
- Blurred or distorted vision that causes drivers not to see other vehicles approaching an intersection;
- Impaired motor coordination that interferes with steering and maintaining control of a vehicle at an intersection.
- Inability to judge speed and distance that increases the risk of running a stoplight and broadsiding another vehicle.
Drowsy or fatigued driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. It causes the same impairments as those listed above. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies show that being awake for 18 hours straight interferes with driving ability to the same extent as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent (just below the legal limit for most drivers). A driver who goes 24 hours without sleep experiences impairment equivalent to having a BAC of 0.10 percent (over the legal limit).
Tampa-area truckers, shift workers, and late-night drivers face the highest risk of suffering from fatigue-related impairments that lead to a broadside accident. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us are immune to the effects of feeling overtired behind the wheel. In fact, according to the CDC, more than one-third of Floridians do not get enough sleep regularly. In other words, at any given Tampa intersection, one in every three drivers will feel tired enough to make a bad decision that leads to a broadside collision.
Speeding may not directly cause a broadside collision, but it does make broadsides more likely at Tampa intersections. Exceeding a Tampa speed limit or traveling too fast for weather or traffic conditions increases accident risk by shrinking driver reaction times, and lengthening the distance vehicles need to come to a safe, controlled stop. A speeding driver will also struggle to spot and respond to traffic signs and signals at an intersection.
Not only does speeding in Tampa increase the likelihood of broadside collisions, it also makes those collisions more deadly, especially if the front of the speeding vehicle collides with the side of the other. The higher the vehicle’s speed in a crash, the more violent the impact. Even if crash victims survive a high-speed Tampa broadside collision, they still risk sustaining catastrophic injuries.
Poor Visibility and Limited Sightlines
Tampa drivers must often contend with sun glare, rain, fog, and roadside visual obstructions like billboards that can prevent them from navigating intersections safely. Poor visibility heightens the risk of a broadside collision at an intersection by making it difficult to decide when it’s safe to enter an intersection or to pull onto a busy road. Drivers can reduce visibility-related risks by wearing sunglasses, always using their turn signals, and driving at a safe speed. But even these measures cannot prevent all broadside collisions if drivers cannot see and react to potential hazards.
How a Tampa Broadside Collision Injury Lawyer Can Help
Broadside collisions in Tampa frequently turn victims’ lives upside-down through injuries, hospitalizations, and unexpected expenses. They need assistance to make sure they claim and obtain financial compensation from the party or parties who caused the crash.
Tampa car accident lawyers represent those victims in legal actions seeking that compensation. The lawyer’s job is to handle every aspect of securing full, fair payment for the damages victims have suffered.
Depending on the circumstances, a skilled attorney can:
- Investigate a broadside collision to figure out how it happened and who should face legal and financial accountability for it;
- Locate and preserve evidence to use in proving who caused the accident and the damages it caused;
- Answer questions and provide guidance to injured clients and their loved ones, to help them navigate the aftermath of a broadside crash;
- Prepare and file legal demands for payment of financial compensation by insurance companies and at-fault parties;
- Appear in court on behalf of injured clients to represent them and prove their claims to a judge and jury;
- Negotiate settlements with at-fault parties, their lawyers, and their insurance companies, as a means of avoiding going to trial; and
- Collect money due to an injured broadside accident victim after reaching a settlement or winning a judgment or jury award at trial.
The type and amount of compensation a victim might recover through a lawyer’s efforts vary. Still, they will often include payment for medical and other expenses, lost wages and income, and the victim’s pain and suffering.
If you suffered injuries and losses in a Tampa-area broadside collision, you might have the right to receive significant financial compensation. To learn more, contact a skilled Tampa lawyer today for a free consultation.